WordDog Plain English Editor

Reviewed by: Robin Nobles, send e-mail
Published by: Plain English Technologies, go to the web site
Requires: Microsoft Word XP (2002), 2000 or 97; Windows XP, 2000, ME, 98, NT4, or 95; Pentium 200+ MHz, 32 MB RAM, 1.2 MB disk space
MSRP: $24.95

When you sit down to read the newspaper, a book or a letter, what do you do when the words are difficult to read or a little too flowery? Do you skip the section and find one that is easier to read and understand? If you're the writer of that content, you certainly want to make sure your readers find nothing which causes them to stumble or skip. The point struck home recently when a copy editor changed all my "utilizes" to "uses" because she remembered something that I forgot: the simpler words, the easier they are to understand.

Plain English Technologies has created a unique program which helps ensure your writing is clear and easy to understand. It helps cut needless words and it makes your writing stronger and more professional. Key features include a database of over 16,000 suspicious words, wordy phrases and plain language choices. It even has a built-in spelling and grammar checker.

So, how does it work? Once you've created some content, simply click on the little WordDog icon. You're asked if you'd like to run a spell check on the document first. Then, the program starts at the beginning of the document, searching for redundant words, "wordy" phrases, or simpler replacements for some words. You're given several options, which can be selected or ignored (leaving the original words intact). Here's some text from one of the WordDog sample documents:

"All warm-blooded animals and human beings can acquire rabies. Rabies is a disease of the central nervous system and the fact remains that it is in most cases fatal once symptoms have developed.

"There were substantially more occurrences of rabies in France prior to the twentieth century due to the fact that there were an abundance of rabid foxes. At present the majority of persons acquire rabies by a bite from an infected dog."

Here's the result of running WordDog to see if the text could be simplified, made easier to understand and generally more professional.

"All warm-blooded animals and human beings can get rabies. Rabies is a disease of the central nervous system, and it is usually fatal once symptoms have developed.

"There were more incidents of rabies in France before the twentieth century because there were plenty of rabid foxes. Now most people get rabies by a bite from an infected dog."

Quite a difference in content and readability, isn't there?

Who can benefit from this program? Anyone who creates Web site content, writes articles or fiction, creates reports for his or her job, or authors any work that will be read by someone else. WordDog fast and easy to use, with no learning curve whatsoever. It even links to Web-based encyclopedias and thesauri for extra help. The only downside that I can see is that WordDog only works with Microsoft Word XP (2002), Word 2000, and Word 97. WordPerfect users are out of luck.

Give WordDog a try. You'll be surprised at how it can clean up your writing! A free trial version is available so that you can download and try this handy utility.

Letters to the Editor are welcome and occasionally abused in public. Send e-mail to: whine@kickstartnews.com





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